Cost of war

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. -Matthew 5:9

On December 15, 2005, our President owned up to the fact that Iraq did not have and was not producing weapons of mass destruction, his original justification for going to war. Bush stated, "It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq...."

We can finally put a dollar cost on that mistake. Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001, and Linda Bilmes, a Harvard budget expert, released a study yesterday showing that the real financial cost borne by the U.S. for the war in Iraq will be between 1 and 2 trillion dollars. To put that in context, that's between $3,357 and $6,715 for every man, woman, and child in America. Oh, and just a reminder, we don't have the money to pay for this so we're having to borrow the money.

Those figures, by the way, are on top of the $27,411 every man, woman, and child in America already owes because our government has racked up a debt of $8,165,647,324,627.69 as of today.

Since our government has chosen to skip the Dover Test, the human cost of war is often seen as a statistic the media and politicians kick around when it hits nice round numbers. Be prepared for the hype within the next couple of months when this number hits 2,500. I think it's important to recognize the following numbers as more than statistics--they're mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters: the U.S. has lost 2.210 service members, the U.K. has lost 98, and other members of the coalition of the "you're either for us or you're against us" have lost 103. Americans have also had over 16,000 wounded. And did you know we have one soldier officially classified as captured? I didn't.

Not to be glib, but while the death of a member of our armed forces is heartbreaking, it's to be expected--we're at war. Unfortunately the loss of civilian life is something that has been completely overlooked by the media. During the U.S. and allied invasion of Iraq, over 7,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. Since then, estimates range from a low of 27,000 to over 100,000 Iraqi civilians may have been killed.

While I don't see how this war in Iraq can ever be worth the human or financial costs, our President can. In that same Dec. 15 speech, Bush continued, "given Saddam's history and the lessons of Sept. 11, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. Saddam was a threat, and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power."